IN THE AUGUST SHOULDER CHECK, I noted that Porsche doesn’t discard ideas and has a lot of cross fertilization between its racing and production arms. An example of this is the Carrera GT, which was sold in the early 2000s.
Porsche was interested in regaining a solid financial footing in the late ‘90s with the introduction of the first water-cooled 911, the 996, and the “entry level” Boxster. Porsche had also most recently won Le Mans with its 911 GT1 98. The motorsport department had been developing a follow-up to that race-winning car with the LMP2000 or 9R3, which had a five-litre V10 engine producing probably around 680 horsepower. It was expected to be quite competitive at Le Mans, not just knowing Porsche’s experience there but as attested to by champion drivers Allan McNish and Bob Wolleck during testing.
Porsche, at that time headed by Wendelin Wiedeking, needed every scrap of budget to develop and produce the Cayenne. This decision certainly proved correct for the Porsche company’s bottom line, however, Wiedeking challenged the engineers to create “a superb top-of-the-line sports car in a high price range.” That challenge resulted in the Carrera GT, with a carbon-fibre chassis and a V10 engine, increased to 5.7 litres, derived from the aborted LMP2000 project.
This was the first Porsche to have ceramic composite brakes. The engine sits very low in the chassis, which necessitates a very small clutch plate. Internet chatter intimated that it was very difficult to use but owners I spoke with said it only needed a little getting used to. Low weight was the goal, which was met with the carbon-fibre chassis. And a nod to the 917, the shift knob is wooden. Near the end of development, a large radiator was added to deliver performance in very hot places in the world, although it did take away from the luggage space. The vehicle came with bespoke luggage bags mainly because there was little room for regular bags. Porsche originally hoped to sell 1,000 and adjusted the figure up to 1,500. Ultimately 1,270 were built and sold. The Carrera GT can do zero to 60 MPH in 3.5 seconds, the quarter mile in 11 seconds at 130 MPH. Its top speed is over 200 MPH. The car weighs 3,043 pounds and can stop from 60 MPH in 101 feet. Like most Porsches, this car has appreciated in value over the years although that has put it out of my price range. However, I did build a scale model as seen here. </>